Youth initiative completes program

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority joined student groups from across the state for the 2016-17 My Community, My Vision final event recently, which is a year-long effort aimed at helping students and city leaders develop a community plan that creates initiatives and programs that encourage youth to choose their rural hometowns over bigger cities.

Each of the five student groups, including a group from Greenfield-Central High School, with support from graduate students from Ball State University’s School of Urban Planning, presented their community vision plans during a luncheon at The Platform in Downtown Indianapolis.

“The students did an excellent job of identifying opportunities for their communities to invest,” said IHCDA executive director Jacob Sipe. “We look forward to supporting these five municipalities as they implement all or portions of these plans in the coming months.”

Last September, local units of government were encouraged to identify high school students in their community to participate in the 2016-17 MCMV program. Over the past several months, students from Crawfordsville, Fort Wayne, Greenfield, Greensburg and Shelbyville worked alongside their city leaders, IHCDA staff and Ball State University faculty and students to outline their ideas for enhancing the development and quality of life in their hometowns.

The program is supported by Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and is administered by IHCDA with assistance from Ball State University.

“Young people should always have a seat at the table when municipalities — both small and large — identify strategies to make their communities better,” said Crouch, who serves as board chair of IHCDA. “I’m excited to see the plans presented today and visit these communities in the future to see some of the projects become a reality.”

MCMV was developed with the belief that young people in Indiana should not have to leave their hometowns in order to achieve their dreams. Previous participating groups have developed community vision plans that lay the groundwork for student entrepreneurship opportunities, community gardens, bike-share programs, farmer’s markets, and other programs students wanted to see brought to their hometown. Others have raised grant funding and in-kind donations to implement projects developed in the MCMV planning process.